YMCA and Little League bolster partnership

The YMCA of the Cayman Islands (“the Y”) and the Cayman Islands Little League (CILL) have agreed to take their collaborative relationship to a new level.  The deeper partnership will result in a combining of resources, allowing two of the oldest and largest providers of youth programmes in the world to unite in a shared passion for building character in Cayman’s youth.

Working alongside the committed volunteers of the Little League Association, the Y will now provide support for administration and general management to enhance ball programmes at the Field of Dreams. For the past 4 years, the Y has been leasing Little League facilities to offer day camp and teen programmes during the summer school and holiday breaks.

Under the new arrangement, the Little League will allow the YMCA to build facilities on undeveloped land behind the ballfields to offer additional activities for youth and families. In return, the Y has committed to make extensive facility improvements at the Field of Dreams, now and in the future.

Members of both Little League and the YMCA gather to hear about the new partnership.

One significant element of the new agreement is a field replacement project, estimated to cost around $1 million. The CILL will work together with the Y to raise the necessary funds and oversee the replacement within the next two years as part of a comprehensive plan for capital development on the property.  Initial YMCA concepts for the undeveloped land include indoor academic support and recreational facilities that will accommodate all ages, from young children through active seniors.

Additional amenities under consideration are a splash park, playground, exercise area and pavilions, which will complement the brand-new ropes course that was made possible through the 2017 “DG’s 5K Challenge”. The long-term goal is for the CILL and the Y to provide a fun and exciting destination for youth and families to come together, learn, try new things, be healthy and active.

For over 25 years, the Little League programme has made a substantial impact on many of Cayman’s youth, relying almost solely on volunteers to operate. With the addition of professional Y staff to support administrative functions and facility operations, CILL leaders expect to grow participation and improve the baseball and softball programmes in Cayman.

“The CILL and YMCA have found synergy in our mission and purpose for serving the community, primarily in the area of engaging youth in constructive and healthy activity that teaches positive values such as sportsmanship, respect and responsibility,” said Y CEO Greg Smith.  “The YMCA leadership is excited for this opportunity to further collaborate in a unique and special partnership, united in our commitment to strengthening the community.”

CILL Chairman, Erwin Freeland provided his perspective, stating “The Little League has great potential, and we are delighted to partner with the Y as we continue to work toward fully realising our goals of serving the community and helping our youth develop.  This partnership makes great sense.” Freeland added, “We’re as committed as ever to see our programme and facilities grow into something that is revered in our community and abroad.  I’m elated to expand our partnership with a proven entity such as the Y that will ensure we realise our dreams and goals, collectively. It’s like hitting a ‘Grand Slam’.”

One of the developments is a YMCA rope course. A ground breaking ceremony was held in December.

Although there are considerable benefits that result from combining resources, Mr. Smith expressed one of the reasons he believes it’s not more common. “It takes trust – trust that one will never step on the other to gain some perceived advantage, that resources will be shared fairly, and that both will better achieve their cause through cooperation rather than self-interest. This kind of trust does not come easily. It needs to be built over time, not only by the individuals in leadership roles, but through the history and purpose of each organisation,” said Mr. Smith.

“There must be a sense that we are aligned philosophically and can connect through a common purpose. In this case, all of the elements are in place, and we will be mindful to properly nurture the relationship as we move forward.”

Richard Finlay, the Chairman of the CILL Capital Planning Committee agreed, emphasising how unique the relationship is in comparison to the corporate world.  “In most commercial agreements, there is posturing and pushing to enhance an advantageous position of the respective participants.  The reality is that this is a partnership between two charitable organisations, focused on the betterment of generations of residents of the Cayman Islands,” said Mr. Finlay.

“Of the many moments of joy and satisfaction I have witnessed over the decades as a volunteer with CILL, this is my most satisfying moment.  This is a once in a lifetime opportunity that benefits all stakeholders – Little League, the YMCA and the community at large.  A true win-win-win.”

The Y has just celebrated its fifth anniversary of service in the Cayman Islands while the CILL was officially established in 1990.  JC Calhoun, founder of the Little League and member of the current Y Board, is excited about the new alliance.  “This pooling of resources will have a greater impact on our society.  In years to come, I believe this partnership will be looked upon as a milestone in the history of Cayman charities,” said Mr. Calhoun.

“We cannot hope to solve our social problems without getting in the trenches and fighting to renew the values which made our country great in the first place.  The renewal of values such as honesty, caring, respect, responsibility, and faith are the very foundations of the existing programmes and all that will evolve from the new relationship between Cayman’s YMCA and the Cayman Little League,” he added.


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